In one way, Kotor was the high point of our trip. At over 280M above sea level the hike to the Fortress of St John (Sveti Ivan fortress) was a challenge I had been eagerly anticipating.

Kotor [2016]

Looking For A Challenge

We arrived in Kotor early. Normally, the trip to shore would be on a tender boat. On this occasion, we docked a stone’s throw from the Sea Gate entrance to the old city of Kotor.

The Eurodam from Kotor Sea Gate
The Eurodam from Kotor Sea Gate

I had been looking forward to climbing to the Fortress of St John (Sveti Ivan fortress). With only nine hours in port, we decide to do our climb wall right after breakfast. We had already learned that you need to start early to avoid the crowds. Even though this was mid-October, the temperature could reach 22o C — another reason for an early start.

Picking up a map at the gate, we had the attendant draw the route to the entrance to the fortress wall and quickly got lost. The route outlined on the map was a bit vague. Soon we were at a rusty, locked gate blocking our path. I got some solace from finding out I was not the only one to take the wrong path, two other couples were behind us - also on the wrong path. 

Retracing our steps, we finally found the gate at the end of an alley near the Church of St. Mary of the Sea (Identified in Google as ‘Church of St. Mary Collegiate’)

The Church of St. Mary of the Sea (second name — the church of St. Osanna) is located in the northern part of Kotor's Old Town, on the Trg od drva square. It was built in 1221 in place of an older structure from the VI century.Stopping to pick up a bottle of water and directions, we made our way through a narrow alley towards the wall gate. This proved to be one of the steepest parts of the climb with very slippery cobble stone paving.

It is All Uphill From Here

The stone block steps are various sizes and states of disrepair. Alongside the steps is a path, also in various states of disrepair. A series of switchbacks make the climb much easier and act as rest stops.

The Church of Our Lady of Remedy is about halfway point. It is a popular turn-around point for those not doing the complete climb. I had intended to only go that far when fate stepped in.

A couple that we had met at dinner the previous night were on their way down after getting an early start to make the trek. Urged on by them and by my wife, who was already starting on the next section, I decided to “Reach For The Top”.

The Church of Our lady of Remedy
The Church of Our lady of Remedy

As we went up the path, the distance between the switchbacks gets shorter, and our rest stops were getting longer.

A metal panel bridges a chasm at the entrance to the fortress. It seemed straight out of “Indiana Jones - Temple of the Sun” —  the “Leap of Faith”. Sagging in the centre with flimsy rails - it hardly seemed up to the task of supporting my weight.

But, it did - and we were treated to spectacular views of the Bay of Kotor.

View From the Top

View of Kotor
Looking West from St. John’s Fortress

Looking west from the fort you can see the Stadion Pod Vrmcem soccer stadium. Across the valley is the P22 highway as it winds up the Pastrovic Hills.

Eurodam from St John Fortress
Eurodam from St John Fortress

Our ship is tied up below us across from the entrance to the fortified “old city” of Kotor.

Looking north to the city of Kotor image widget

In the foreground is an arm of the Scurda River that also forms part of the defensive moat around the old city wall. Looking up the coast are tourist villas and apartments.

Time For Lunch

The walk down from the fortress was as slow as the walk up. The number of people hiking up to the fortress had increased, and we step off the steps to the pathway to let them by. By the time we got down we were ready for a late lunch.

The old city is very compact, and we had only walked a short distance when we came to a square with rows of tables. A quick look at the menu, and we knew this wasn’t for us. As a general, we don’t go to any place that has hamburgers or french fries on the menu. (Unless we are in Canada, the UK, or the US}

While we were debating which way to go, my wife said “That smells good.” We literally — followed our nose to the Dalmatinska Konoba Cesarica (375, Stari Grad). A small tavern with outstanding food at very reasonable prices. ( Rate #5 on TripAdvisor reviews )

We both ordered different versions of the seafood risotto and a beer. They were both excellent.

We spent the rest of the day walking around the newer parts of Kotor. Walking along the Scurda River we spotted a school of sea trout. (The river forms part of the moat around the old city wall.) We only went a few blocks into the newer section of Kotor. The headed back to the ship.